Education

A new age in volunteering

INVOLVEMENT in volunteering is having a dramatic impact on young people, the voluntary sector and the unemployed, according to ProjectScotland. In just over 18 months the national volunteering scheme, which launched in 2005 and is based on the successful AmeriCorps programme, claims to have changed the perception of volunteering among the young.

It also claims significant benefits to businesses, participating charities and agencies, and the volunteers themselves.

According to figures revealed to Herald Society, involvement in ProjectScotland halves a young person's chance of being unemployed, increases fundamental communication skills and enhances the ability of voluntary groups to make a difference.

Read more: A new age in volunteering

Why video games could be good for school pupils

IN THE pre-dawn darkness of a winter's morning, I often hear bumps as my nineyear-old, having jack-knifed out of bed, gallops downstairs to enter Runescape, an internet game that mimics an alien world, complete with three religions, its own monsters, myths and quests.

For him, tapping on the keyboard is obviously the equivalent of the wardrobe route to Narnia as utilised by the Pevensie children.

In an effort to understand what I am dealing with here, I have tried playing it myself, but it doesn't work as well for me; I fumble and stumble, unable to control my "avatar" (the screen image representing my character online), unable to complete the simplest quest.

I, you see, am a digital immigrant, and like a non English-speaking mother who gets her children to do the shopping, I have to ask for my son's help with apparently simple tasks.

Read more: Why video games could be good for school pupils

Scots 'second class' in grades fight

A row between education's governing bodies in England and Scotland may mean Scottish pupils are losing out when competing for university places.

Experts believe English grade inflation is making comparisons between A levels and Scottish qualifications increasingly difficult, and the credit given to pupils who pass Advanced Highers in particular needs to be re-evaluated.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has asked for a benchmarking exercise for the Advanced Higher, but the Department forEducation and Skills (DfES) and Scottish Executive education department (SEED) cannot agree on who should fund the process.

Read more: Scots 'second class' in grades fight

Storytelling

Telling stories is one of our most ancient pastimes, reaching back long before reading. Way before the first scribes were noting the edicts of ancient Egypt's great and good, hunter-gatherers were enlivening their flea-picking sessions round the fire with a tall
tale or two.
This great oral tradition managed to survive rather well in Scotland, where Burns was reared by two illiterate women: his mother and her servant. Although they could not read or write, or perhaps because of it, they had minds and imaginations well stocked with remembered tales and songs.

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School boards may have had their day. But has anyone got any better ideas?

"What does it say to people about the importance of a school board, if you tell them 'It doesn't matter what you call it and you can set it up however you like?'" says Cathy McCulloch, chair of the school board at her son's primary, St Mary's in Leith, Edinburgh.

Her views are representative of many within the school boards community in Scotland, as the Executive consults on sweeping changes to the system for involving parents in education - which effectively mean the abolition of boards.

The new draft bill means schools will be able to decide for themselves how to set up their own body, how many people will be on it and what it will do and be called.

The draft legislation is too vague, according to McCulloch, who is also co-director of the children's parliament.

Read more: School boards may have had their day. But has anyone got any better ideas?